“A source confirmed to The Athletic that Bell is now contemplating whether or not he will show up by the Nov. 13 franchise tag deadline based on newly learned information from the collective bargaining agreement that would allow him to be deemed as a third-year franchise player in 2019 rather than to revert to the second year, even if he doesn’t report.”
As The Big Lead’s Henry McKenna broke down yesterday, “If he does not report, he will not accrue a season. That doesn’t impact Bell’s free agency status. An NFL player needs four accrued seasons to become an unrestricted free agent and Bell has five. His decision not to report, however, will impact his benefits with the NFL, as they are determined by accrued seasons.”
Given that the third-year franchise tag for Bell would result in more than $25 million ($14.5 million is the amount he would have made by signing the franchise tender before the season this year), it would not make much sense for the Steelers to tag him once again. They would have the option to, but would they really go through the circus again for a far more expensive price? Therefore, he would most likely become a free agent or at worst, get the transition tag, which just means that Pittsburgh could choose to match any contract offer he got from another team. If they have refused to give him a long-term deal, though, it’s doubtful they would match a big deal.
Now, there has been some confusion on what the November 13th deadline means, and the reporting has not been clear. The truth is, he just has to report in order to play. If he’s not in by Tuesday, he cannot play at all in 2018. But it’s really troubling that Le’Veon Bell is apparently learning all this just a few days before the deadline–how he doesn’t need to report for Pittsburgh’s franchise tender price to rise–after sitting all year. This “newly learned information” is not new, he’s just now realizing that is how it will work. What has his agent been doing? If you were getting 3-5% of a massive upcoming contract, wouldn’t you make sure your client was fully aware of all the intricate possibilities before the season even began? Truly bizarre.